When to Go
It's best to visit in spring, summer, or early fall. Many privately owned castles and mansions are open only between April and September or October, though the parks surrounding the stately houses may be open all year. If crowds tend to spoil your fun, avoid August, Sunday, and national holidays, particularly in Canterbury and the seaside towns.
Arundel Festival. The popular Arundel Festival presents dramatic productions, classical and pop concerts, and a few more locally centered fun and games, such as a rubber duck race. Most events take place in and around the grounds of Arundel Castle for 10 days in late August. The full schedule is published on the website. Arundel, West Sussex. 01903/883690; www.arundelfestival.co.uk.
Brighton Festival. The three-week-long Brighton Festival, one of England's biggest and liveliest arts festivals, takes place every May in venues around Brighton. The more than 600 events include drama, music, dance, and visual arts. Brighton, Brighton and Hove. 01273/709709; www.brightonfestival.org.
Brighton Fringe. One of the largest fringe festivals in the world—and second only to the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland—this four-week-long arts extravaganza sees hundreds of stand-up, sketch comedy, music, dance, and circus acts descend on the city every May. Brighton, Brighton and Hove. 01273/917272; www.brightonfringe.org.
Broadstairs Dickens Festival.
In 1937, Gladys Waterer, the then-resident of Dickens House in Broadstairs, put on a commemorative production of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield and had people about the town dress in Victorian clothing to publicize it. Since then, the town has hosted a Dickens Festival every June, incorporating everything from film screenings and walking tours to country fairs and dress-up mini-golf. Broadstairs, Kent. 01843/863701; www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk.
Canterbury Festival. Kent's biggest international arts festival fills the town with music, dance, theater, and other cultural events for two weeks every October. Canterbury, Kent. 01227/457568; www.canterburyfestival.co.uk.
Rye Arts Festival. The town of Rye has long been a chosen residence for arty types, from Henry James and Anthony van Dyck to Paul McCartney and Spike Milligan. So it makes perfect sense that, for two weeks every September, the town hosts this art festival, filled with literary talks, film screenings, concerts, and theater performances. Rye, East Sussex. 01797/224442; www.ryeartsfestival.org.uk.